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Honduran To Be Executed in Arizona

April 22, 1998

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) _ Honduran officials demanded Tuesday that Arizona halt the execution of a citizen they say was denied rights under an international treaty.

But U.S. officials declined to intervene, and Jose Roberto Villafuerte was set to die by injection early Wednesday. Villafuerte, 45, was sentenced to death for the 1983 murder of Amelia Schoville, who suffocated after she was left bound and gagged in his Phoenix trailer.

The state Board of Executive Clemency on Tuesday twice voted 4-1 against recommending commutation of the death sentence. Early Tuesday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his last appeals.

The board met for a second time after requests from the Vatican and the president of Honduras. By telephone, President Carlos Flores Facusse told the board that Villafuerte was denied his rights under international treaty when he was arrested.

The State Department has acknowledged that Arizona officials violated the Vienna Convention treaty _ which spells out how countries should treat foreign nationals who are arrested _ by failing to notify Honduras of Villafuerte’s arrest. The department urged the clemency panel to consider the violation, but stopped short of asking officials to halt the execution.

Last week, the State Department asked Virginia to halt the execution of a Paraguayan man for similar reasons. Despite the plea, the man was executed.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Villafuerte denied committing the crime, saying new evidence cast doubt on the case against him.

Mario Fortin, Honduras’ ambassador to the United States, also testified.

``An American who is in Honduras or another country, we have to respect his rights,″ he said after the hearing. ``And here in America, they are not respecting his rights.″

Villafuerte, who was in the United States illegally, admitted hitting Schoville after they got into a fight. He also admitted tying her up _ loosely, he said _ so she wouldn’t be able to call police right away.

Tests showed that Schoville died of asphyxiation because of a ball of cloth lodged in her throat.

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